By SaharaReporters, New York
The Action Congress of Nigeria today asked President Goodluck Jonathan to fire his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, hand him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for immediate prosecution and in addition apologise to Nigerians for appointing a person with an alleged criminal past as the Nation’s Public Affairs Spokesperson.
In a statement issued on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the Jonathan administration in its desperation to employ an “attack dog” to spearhead its onslaught against the opposition parties and other vocal opponents ended up outsourcing the very crucial and strategic position of projecting the public image and reputation of Nigeria to a person with no public reputation and a past steeped in corruption.
According to an online report, Dr Doyin Okupe, the newly appointed Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs is on the list of those being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-corruption body, the EFCC on account of a contract running into hundreds of millions of Naira obtained from the Benue State Governor while serving under President Obasanjo in a similar capacity as the chief spokesperson of that administration.
Rather than execute the project, the online report further claimed Dr. Okupe bolted with the over N200,000,000 (two hundred million Naira only) mobilization money, which he is believed to have invested in his ill-fated political ambition.
That President Goodluck Jonathan went ahead to appoint Dr Okupe as Public Affairs Specialist for the administration and by extension Nigeria despite his criminal background should not come as a surprise to any close observer of this administration as it only confirms the fatal attraction President Jonathan has for appointing or retaining tainted and damaged persons with shoddy pasts or questionable character to serve in his Government the party said.
According to the party, the revelation that Dr Okupe was appointed as the spokesperson of the FG while still under investigation and yet to answer charges bordering on criminal conversion of state funds definitely flies in the face of the rhetorics of this Government that fighting corruption is one of its cardinal goals and also an insult to the collective integrity of Nigerians especially given the cloudy circumstances under which Dr Okupe was relieved of a similar position by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“The ill informed decision of President Jonathan to appoint as his chief image maker, a person who needs to be publicly prosecuted for alleged crime has once again confirmed that the Jonathan Government is deeply troubled about its public image and perception as a rudderless Government that is lost at sea with no compass. However President Jonathan is advised that no amount of spin done by one thousand spin doctors like Dr Doyin and his co-travellers will rescue the Government from public odium. Only performance and delivery, respect for the rule of law and the rights of Nigerians will change the perception”.
‘That a President of a country will approve the appointment of someone under criminal investigation to interface with the public on behalf of the Nigeria Government ridicules the Nigerian people.
The Action Congress of Nigeria therefore calls on President Jonathan today to fire Dr Doyin Okupe immediately, allow the EFCC to prosecute him and offer Nigerians an unpreserved apology for appointing someone who needs to be publicly prosecuted for alleged crime to interface with and on their behalf. The party simultaneously calls on Dr Doyin Okupe to immediately resign his appointment and defend himself against the alleged criminal charges.
However in the event that none of these three things takes place in the next few days then Nigerians must come to terms with the fact that they are at the mercy of an insular Government that is comfortable in the company of fraudsters, crooks, black mailers and embezzlers, the party warned.